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Researchers question DrinkWise objectives

AAP logoAAP 24/08/2016 Rebecca Gredley

Researchers from a Perth university have questioned the objectives of DrinkWise, an independent not-for-profit organisation funded by the alcohol industry.

The researchers from Edith Cowan University's school of arts and humanities analysed DrinkWise's press releases over a period of five years as well as their framing of the alcohol issue.

Danielle Brady and Rachel Pietracatella concluded the messages were a form of indirect lobbying serving to protect the alcohol industry from increased government regulation by deflecting industry responsibility for the issues.

"We found that DrinkWise messages tended to blame parents, and culture in general, for children's drinking habits. This ultimately shifts blame away from the industry, ignoring the role of alcohol marketing in causing alcohol-related harms," Dr Brady said.

DrinkWise Australia chief executive John Scott called the critique extremely disappointing, saying the organisation had invested more than $30 million since 2005 on targeted and sustained campaigns and education activities designed to promote a healthier and safer Australian drinking culture.

"We are seeing great results as evidenced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's statistics around how the majority of Australians (82 per cent) are drinking responsibly and in moderation, and far less underage kids are drinking at all (72 per cent)," he said.

The researchers said that DrinkWise did not advocate for any evidence-based strategies to reduce alcohol consumption in a sample of 54 consecutive media releases.

"We believe the communication was targeted to elites and policymakers in order to influence public policy through news media," Ms Pietracatella said.

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